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Last week "Cynsa" and I caught a quick lunch at Yuanbao Jiaozi on Irving Street. It opened four months ago and specializes in water-boiled dumplings in a variety of fillings.
The dumplings are made fresh to order, not frozen, and are available boiled plain, served in soup, or a few varieties can be pan-fried. The ladies wrapping and cooking the dumplings can be seen in the open kitchen.
We started with a cold appetizer of Shredded Pig Ear in Chili Oil. Not so shredded, the pig ear was sliced thicker than I would prefer, but still had plenty of crunch. The chili oil was only mildly hot and well-balanced with salt and bright acidity.
Then the shiitake and fish boiled dumplings. I dabbed them with a dipping sauce made from the soy sauce and black vinegar cruets on the tables. Just a tiny bit to accent but not obscure the delicate white fish and earthy dried mushroom filling. The wrappers were medium-thin, and while still having a bit of chew, seemed much more elastic and tender. I guess that's where the freshness shows.
We also shared the House Special Beef Noodles in soup, ordered medium-spicy. The anise-scented beef shank mottled with soft gristle was so tender and delicious. The noodles turned soggy pretty fast in the light-bodied, slightly sweet beef stock. I'm not sure that I'd order this again, perhaps simply opting for the plate of Marinated Beef that's on the appetizer menu instead for the best part.
Yuanbao Jiaozi is bright and cheery in these initial days. With only two FOH staff and making dumplings to order, it does take a little longer to be served. Worth it though, as these boiled dumplings are a cut above. I'll be back to try the other varieties.
2110 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
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